PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Highway 26 has reopened from Rhododendron to Oregon 216 milepost 72 after heavy snow forced officials to shut the roadway down Monday, according to officials.
The Oregon Department of Transportation said mileposts 96-62 remain closed because of slick roads, high winds and poor visibility.
A detour to access U.S. 197 is available through OR 216.
Many drivers have been parked overnight waiting for the highway to reopen.
Downed trees along the east end of the roadway forced the highway to stay closed through Tuesday morning, according to Don Hamilton from ODOT.
Snow was falling at such a rapid rate Monday that ODOT said their crews weren’t able to keep up. Over 2 feet of snow has fallen in the last 24 hours around Mount Hood.
Santiam Pass is closed between Canyon Creek and the junction with OR 126 from milepost 43 to 71.2. ODOT says snow levels are too high for snow plows, however crews are working to clear roads of snow and downed trees, ODOT tweeted shortly after 1:00 p.m.
Another half to a full foot of snow is forecasted for Government Camp, while the Santiam and Willamette passes may get 20 inches of snow throughout Tuesday. Dave Tragethon of Mt. Hood Meadows said the park got around 32″ of snow in a 24 hour period Monday.
All of the guests were able to get out through the Highway 26 closure Monday, but a few staff members chose to spend the night at Mt. Hood Meadows.
“We also had an outside concern that if this storm kicks up, might be in the same position as Monday where in the middle of the afternoon both Highway 26 and Highway 35 coming down from Hood River, both closed and then what do we do?” Tragethon said.
Tragethon told KOIN 6 the park was suspending their operations Tuesday due to heavy snow and road closures in the area. Timberline Lodge also closed for the day. Mt. hood meadows is expecting to open tomorrow at 9 a.m. but they will make that decision in the morning based on weather conditions.
“I would say it’s not really safe if you don’t have experience because it’s a lot of snow and it’s 32 fahrenheit, it’s kind of slick,” Truck driver Sergeiy Huvenya said.
Once Highway 26 opened Tuesday, some families decided to take advantage of all the snow — heading to Government Camp to go sledding and snowboarding. The snow was so deep though, some of the kids had trouble even making it to the sledding hill.
Traction tires and chains are required and experts are recommending staying home if you don’t have a lot of experience driving in the snow.
Avalanche danger remains a concern in the backcountry and above the tree lines around the mountain.
Interstate 84 is reopened except for milepost 256 to 357 just 3 miles west of La Grande. SR 14 in Washington also reopened.